Fresh from having been announced African Fashion Awards’ Emerging Designer for 2014, the founder of knitwear label MaXhosa by Laduma, has won the inaugural Vogue ‘Scouting for Africa’ award. He was one of eleven finalists from across the African continent.
Laduma Ngxokolo was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, but relocated his enterprise to Cape Town in 2014, as he found the flourishing design industry of that city to be best suited to his vision.
The inspiration for the label comes from Xhosa tradition. For 6 months after initiation, amakrwala (initiates) must dress in new, distinguished, formal clothing. Having undergone the ceremony himself, Laduma wanted to design clothing that would be appropriate for these young men while embodying their cultural aesthetic. While studying at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, he researched traditional beadwork designs for a class project, and realized he could adapt them to knitting. The rest, as they say, is history.
As part of the prize, MaXhosa by Laduma will be presented at the international showcase of Palazzo Morando in Milan in September and at the Africa International Fashion Week in December in Lagos, Nigeria.
Of course African elements are not new in fashion, but very few African designers are represented on the international catwalks. Of this, Laduma says,
“I have contrasting feelings when I look at these collections. A part of me is happy because Africa has a chance of appearing in the prêt-a-porter fashion shows. On the other hand, knowing how important the history and the meanings behind every symbol of African culture are, I’m puzzled when I see them used without full knowledge of the facts.”
He looks up to the Missoni family for staying true to their identity through the years, and feels that African designers, with their knowledge of their own cultures, have a lot of original ideas to bring to the fashion industry. He is in fact developing a series of garments, each inspired by a different African tradition.
With Laduma Ngxokolo, truly South African luxury knitwear has finally arrived on the international scene.